# Ancient process #

A number of esoteric and spiritual teachings assert that it is necessary to come down to the physical plane and take on a human incarnation or some physical form to achieve enlightenment or liberation, For instance Buddhism refers to the "precious Human Rebirth"; the idea that even the gods would hav eto incarnate in physical form to progress was held by Blavatsky and apparently Theon as well, and Sai Baba also mentions something like this in one of his talks. Sri Aurobindo makes the intriging suggestion that evolution is only possible in a physical existence, because the other realms and beings are "typal" and hence unchanging.

If these ideas are correct, it suggests why physical reality exists. It is only in the outer physical being that the original Consciousness is solid enough to enable the interaction and synergy of dynamic systems. More, if we assume the merit of Sri Aurobindo's concept of Supramentalisation: it is only in this physical mode that existence is dense and stable enough to form the foundation for structures that can be perfected; that is, that can be the vehicle of, and take on the consciousness of, the Noetic Absolute ("supermind").

We have seen that Theosophical and Anthroposophical cosmologies present evolution in terms of the progressive individuation of successive metaphysical principles by a reincarnating monad. This is really just the temporalisation of the standard Graeco-Medieval "Great Chain of Being". So minerals have a physical body only, plants both a physical and an etheric, animals add an astral body, and humanity a mental body (Theosophy) or Ego/Soul (Anthroposophy).

While this insight is probably basically correct, it is far too simplistic as presented above as literalist esotericism. A better hypothesis would be a two-way interaction in which emergent evolution results in the individuation of etheric, emoptional, and mental resonances in the physical, and that these resonances in turn shape emergent evolution, but that it is not a simplistic one on correspondence in that the mental faculty only appears in human evolution. In fact rudimentary mental bodies would seem to have appeared along with primitive invertebrates, as higher invertebrates like cephalopods, and higher vertebrates, both have sophisticated mental bodies. And the principle that drives this evolution is both the inner striving of the divine soul/monad/higher self, and the dynamic environment shaped by larger physical and occult cosmecological (astrognostic) forces and beings.

Earlier it has been suggested that involution involves the convergence of four distinct but interrelated ontoclines. The same could be said for evolution.

We begin with the understanding - suggested by Steven Guth several years ago - that the Earth, rather than being an isolated bubble in the empty void of space, is an open system which is constantly receiving forces or "beings" from elsewhere in the cosmos, and these influence the evolution of life, consciousness, and civilisation here. Early thoughts on this hypothesis are in these essays (Considering Islam and Cosmogenic evolution)

The Formative/Morphogenetic - Immediately beyond, behind, and within the objective physical are the matrix or blueprints of the external. Rupert Sheldrake decsribed this best as the process of formative causation. It is not the mundane physical but pertains to the etheric (subtle physical) body and to environmental and perhaps even to larger cosmic etheric forces (But not universal because it changes through time), and to the inner rather than the outer being. And related to this there are samskaras or impressions from the past, from past lives and so on, as well as whatever else is carried over from individual past lives or from the collective evolution of the planet from its earlier stages. In the table of occult planes and resonances, the Morphogenetic derives from the Spiritual Physical.

The Ecodevic - In addition to - and further removed from the material physical than - the above are a whole host of forces: subtle physical, etheric, and physico-astral elementals, astral-mental (or orecto-ideational) group minds, devas (sensu New Age definition) of various kinds. We can call them ecodevas and in fact the nature hierarchies as a whole. They seem to correspond to the environmental intermediate (between inner and outer) or inner level of being of the Subtle Physical (Astral Physical and Spiritual Physical) and Physical Astral. More on them here

The Astrodevic - Then there are beings - here termed astrodevas to distinguish them from the terrestrial or ecodevas - that come in from elsewhere in the physical universe. One might think of the Earth at its present stage in evolution with such vibrant activity of biological life forms and human thought as radiating out into the cosmos and attracting these things. More on one such being here. These forces seem to correspond to the same strata as the Ecodevic, but on the cosmic level of being.

The Interdimensional - Then there are also beings, like the above, but which come from other physical or etheric universes than our own.

The Supraphysical - Then there is the descent of spiritual or occult forces from totally supraphysical dimensions of being - from the Astral or possibly even the Ideational universe. But because we might assume that the higher the universe the harder to express, so most of these phenomena are from the Astral Plane. This is also the kingdom of beings that often come through genuine (as opposed to physical astral) channelled communications. These astral forces might sometimes be seen to be tied with the astrodevic forces from space, at other times they are purely universal. These forces and principles and gods and daimons may come from any of the supraphysical planes or universes, and the nature of the descent and what the new hierarchy or kingdom or revelation or divine or non-divine or anti-divine manifestation brings varies accordingly.

The Divine - And finally there are specific avataric descents from the highest levels, from the Divine or the Supreme Consciousness and the infinite higher possibilities of the Noetic Absolute. According to Sri Aurobindo (don't have the actual ref on me) every major evolutionary ascension of consciousness involves a divine descent. And Teilhard de Chardin [ref] refers to evolution moving or drawn towards a consummate point or goal, the omega point.

Evolution of the Individuality:

Paramatman / Buddha Mind - This has already been described
Transcendent Higher Self - This is the "Celestial" Higher Self, the "Man of Light", Heavenly Twin, the Angelic Spirit, the Guide of Light, etc in Hermetic, Sufi, Gnostic, and other such traditions, Ar-Ruh al-Qudsi/Supreme Spirit, Christ in Christian mysticism and esoteric Christianity, the Transcendent "Central being" (Jivatam) guiding incarnations (Aurobindo), Higher or Spiritual Self (Assagioli), and the Monad of Theosophy (right). At least one experience [link xxxx] indicates a Matrix of Higher Selves.
Immanent/Evolving Higher Self - This is the Divine Soul or Purusha as immanent Divine Soul; the Pneuma or Divine Spark of Gnosticism, Sri Aurobindo's Chaitya Purusha or "Psychic Being", perhaps also Kashmir Shaivism Purusha, the Immortal Personality evolving to perfection, the Divine Soul or Higher Triad or Immortal Ego (right) of Theosophy and Alice Bailey's teachings. Many teachings confuse the two higher selves, but I am here following Sri Aurobindo in considering them separate but in relation to each other. This is just like the Heavenly Twins of ancient Hermetic, Gnostic, Ishraqi, and Sufi thought.
Essential Being - True Being or purushas of each level, according to Sri Aurobindo (perhaps Samkhya seems to refer here to the mental purusha). These are part of the Inner Being that supports the prakritic nature (It is unclear whether Sri Aurobindo considers the Inner Being and the True Bewing as one or two principles). Also the Antakarana or "Inner Being" (especially Buddhi and Ahamkara) of Samkhyan philosophy in part. This is equivalent in part to the "Divine Soul".
Ego - Conscious Self - This is the conscious personality or conscious self, the Ego according to Freud and Jung, the Manas and Manovijnana of Samkhya and Yogachara respectively, the "field of consciousness", the part of our being we identity with as "I" or "self" or "mind" or "soul". Normally it corresponds to the Outer or Surface Consciousness, but with spiritual development the field of consciosuness expands and is elevated to include more of the inner being. The Ego or I corresponds also to the Upper Left Quadrant in Wilber's Integral map.
Double / "It" / Unconscious - The "Double" or "Id" (literally, "It") is that part of the self that is experienced as "other", as a sort of Double or Doppleganger to the Ego. It can be understood as a transitional or intermediate reality between the complete Not-Self, which is specifically not a part of the individual, and the ego. In other words, it is intermediate between Within and Without, Subjectivity and Objectivity, Interiors and Exteriors. It lies outside the field of consciousness, but it still connected to the psyche, although it has a large degree of autonomy. A review of the Double in folktales and elsewhere (including Steiner's teachings) can be found here
Not-self / All Other Selves - To some extent this is the Prakriti of Samkhya and Advaita, but also everything that is not included in the individual Self. It is also, at least in its physical aspect, Objective reality according to science and secular thought.

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