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The Consciousness of the Atom - The Field of Evolution
The recognition of the factor of the intelligence will inevitably lead us to the contemplation of the evolution of consciousness in its many forms, ranging all the way from those types of consciousness which we consider subhuman, through the human, up to what may be logically posited (even if it may not be demonstrated) to be superhuman consciousness. The next question which will face us will be, What lies back of all these factors? Is there, behind the objective form and its animating intelligence, an evolution which corresponds to the "I" faculty, to the Ego in man? Is there in nature, and in all that we see around us, the working out of the purpose of an individualized self-conscious Being? If there is such a Being, and such a fundamental existence, we should be able to see somewhat His intelligent activities, and to watch His plans working towards fruition. Even if we cannot prove that God is, and that the Deity exists, it may be possible to say, at least, that the hypothesis that He exists is a reasonable one, a [20] rational suggestion, and a possible solution of all the mysteries we see around us. But to do that it has to be demonstrated that there is an intelligent purpose working through forms of every kind, through races and nations, and through all that we see manifesting in modern civilization; the steps that that purpose has taken, and the gradual growth of the plan, will have to be demonstrated, and from that demonstration we shall perhaps be able to see what lies ahead for us in the coming stages.

Let us for the minute consider what we mean by the words "evolutionary process." They are constantly being used, and the average man well knows that the word "evolution" suggests an unfolding from within outwards, and the unrolling from an inner center, but we need to define the idea more clearly, and thus get a better concept. One of the best definitions which I have come across is that which defines evolution as "the unfolding of a continually increasing power to respond." Here we have a definition that is very illuminating as we consider the matter aspect of manifestation. It involves the conception of vibration, and of response to vibration, and though we may in time have to discard the term "matter," and employ some such suggestion as "force center," the concept still holds good, and the response of the center to stimulation is even more accurately [21] to be seen. In considering human consciousness this same definition is of real value. It involves the idea of a gradually increasing realization, of the developing response of the subjective life to its environment, and it leads us eventually on and up to the ideal of a unified Existence which will be the synthesis of all the lines of evolution, and to a conception of a central Life, or force, which blends and holds together all the evolving units, whether they are units of matter, such as the atom of the chemist and physicist, or units of consciousness, such as human beings. This is evolution, the process which unfolds the life within all units, the developing urge which eventually merges all units and all groups, until you have that sumtotal of manifestation which can be called Nature, or God, and which is the aggregate of all the states of consciousness. This is the God to Whom the Christian refers when he says "in Him we live, and move, and have our being"; this is the force, or energy, which the scientist recognizes; and this is the universal mind, or the Oversoul of the philosopher. This, again, is the intelligent Will which controls, formulates, binds, constructs, develops, and brings all to an ultimate perfection. This is that Perfection which is inherent in matter itself, and the tendency which is latent in the atom, in man, and in all that is. This interpretation [22] of the evolutionary process does not look upon it as the result of an outside Deity pouring His energy and wisdom upon a waiting world, but rather as something which is latent within that world itself, that lies hidden at the heart of the atom of chemistry, within the heart of man himself, within the planet, and within the solar system. It is that something which drives all on toward the goal, and is the force which is gradually bringing order out of chaos; ultimate perfection out of temporary imperfection; good out of seeming evil; and out of darkness and disaster that which we shall some day recognize as beautiful, right, and true. It is all that we have visioned and conceived of in our highest and best moments.

Evolution has also been defined as "cyclic development," and this definition brings me to a thought which I am very anxious that we should thoroughly grasp. Nature repeats continuously until certain definite ends have been reached, certain concrete results have been brought about, and certain responses made to vibration. It is by the recognition of this accomplishment that the intelligent purpose of indwelling Existence can be demonstrated. The method whereby this is achieved is that of discrimination, or of intelligent choice. There are, in the textbooks of different schools, many words which are used to [23] convey the same general idea, such as "natural selection," or "attraction and repulsion." I would like, if possible, to avoid technical terms, because they are used by one school of thought to mean one thing, and by another for something different. If we can find a word similar in intent, yet not tied to any particular line of thought, we may find fresh light thrown upon our problem. Attraction and repulsion in the solar system is but the discriminating faculty of the atom or of man demonstrating in the planets and the sun. It will be found in atoms of all kinds; we can call it adaptation, if we so choose, or the power to grow and to adapt the unit to its environment through the rejection of certain factors and the acceptance of others. It shows itself in man as free will, or the power to choose, and in the spiritual man it can be seen as the tendency to sacrifice, for a man then chooses a particular line of action in order to benefit the group to which he belongs, and rejects that which is purely selfish.

We might finally define evolution as ordered change and constant mutation. It demonstrates in the ceaseless activity of the unit or the atom, the interaction between groups, and the endless play of one force or type of energy upon another.

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