International Forum for NeoVedantins
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Story of Buddha
Samkhya and Vedanta
More About Guru
Life of Ramakrishna and Its Relevance
Advaita Vedanta as the Quest for Knowledge
Related to Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda: Short Biography
At The Parliament of Religions: Chicago 1893
Swami Vivekananda and Madame Calve
Nature of India's Contribution
Related to Ramakrishna
Sri Ramakrishna: A Brief life sketch
The Game of Ladder
Glory of Sri Ramakrishna
Related to Hinduism
What is Hiduism?
Gita: An Introduction
Path of Devotion in Gita
Karma Yoga in the Gita
Introduction to Katha Upanishad
Introduction to Isha Upanishad
Religious Social Movements
Related to Vedanta
March Ahead to Advaita
Yoga: Part 1 | Yoga: Part 2
Story of Sri Ramakrishna: Part 10
Altered State of Consciousness and Evolution of a God Man
A Study based on the life of Sri Ramakrishna
Manifestation of Consciousness
The process of evolution shows us that the matter organizes itself in such a fashion that more and more Reality - Consciousness - is expressed through it. Up to the human level this is quite clearly obvious. However, there develops tendency at this stage to think that the human race is superior and cut off from other species, and, as if the nature has been created for its enjoyment, plunder, and benefit alone. The human being tends to forget that he is just one link in the chain of evolution, and therefore, higher evolutionary trends are not only probable but are bound to follow in future.
The confusion is created due to our lack of ability to understand or predict the course of evolutionary progress. We fail to see the better evolved human beings, simply because we are bound by our sense perception to see progress from materialistic point of view only. We fail to perceive that simplicity, denial of sense enjoyment, renunciation, and discrimination are necessary preconditions to transcend the human limitations of selfish genetic structure and to reach that state of evolution where Reality - Consciousness - is expressed in its finer and full glory. The man then becomes multi-centric instead of egocentric. The universal consciousness tends to manifest through the higher evolved central nervous system.
Throughout the history, persons manifesting such qualities of higher evolved human beings - we may call them God-Man species - are born on this earth. Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, Krishna, Prophet Mohammed, Guru Nanak, and in recent past Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and many others all over the world, are a few examples of such species. Many more are forgotten in the flow of time.
The question is why should we bother? Let the nature take its own course of evolving this 'better human being'; such was and is the case of evolution of other species. No monkey or ape has made any conscious attempt to become a man; it was an accident or nature's play at the most. Yes we agree.
However, now, the natural evolution has created a brain structure where intelligence has reached the stage by which human being can control and guide the course of his own evolution. There is a possibility that such evolution may bring about changes in the brain structure by adding one or more lobes to the brain, or developing new connections within the cerebral cortex.
Stretching our argument to its logical conclusion, we can postulate that the brain can develop new centers and connections to control all the lower centers of lust, hunger, sensory perception, special senses, autonomic nervous system including control of heart and respiratory functions, etc. Due to this control every activity of body and mind is temporarily suspended to arrive at a stage where limiting adjutants are no more active, and the consciousness is perceived, as it really is - Universal, Unbound and Free. This is what we call as reaching the state of nirvikalpa samadhi and reaching the domain of 'Thousand Petal Lotus' or in Tantra terminology - 'Sahasrara' chakra. This new center is capable of expressing the consciousness of universal love and solidarity.
Development of New Centers
Can we speculate that some new centers could evolve in the brain that would control the present day frontal lobe? This newly developed lobe (or center) would suppress/control the intellect and the memory, and every lower function, and the human being would become capable of reaching the state of samadhi. More and more dormant neurons will be recruited or new ones will be created to achieve this. The need of intense sadhana, as seen in the life of Sri Ramakrishna, thus becomes a necessity if we have to evolve further and farther.
"The brain has the capacity for continuously changing its structure, and ultimately its function, throughout a lifetime. This capacity, known as brain plasticity, allows the brain to respond to environmental changes or to changes within the organism itself. The brain is altered not only by sensory experience but also by hormones and other chemicals, including those produced by the brain [or taken as drugs]."
"Plasticity is most obvious during development, but the adult brain still retains the capacity to compensate for injury or age related neuron loss by changing its structure. This implies that some change in brain structure also occurs with experience. The change is most likely to be in the number, or in the efficiency, of connections between neurons. Mechanisms controlling plasticity include not only those factors that directly change synapses or create new ones but also those mechanisms, which change the supporting cast of the synapse."
"Various endogenous factors in the brain play an important role in stimulating the growth of new connections. These factors may be hormones or neurotransmitters. They may also be unique compounds known as trophic factors, which include a variety of chemicals such as nerve growth factor and fibroblast growth factor. The brain initially produces most trophic factors during development in order to assist in generating connections in the first place. Other factors may be produced only at certain times such as puberty or pregnancy. This reflects the unique plasticity of the brain at critical life periods."
Constant Japa and meditation - spiritual discipline - can also act as stimulus for the release of such nerve growth factors/trophic factors! The required energy would be made available by reducing its wastage in indulging in the external sense pleasures (lust and gold). While the centers for universal love, compassion, and selflessness grow, the sensual acts and indulgence in sense pleasures is taken as harming the self, and thus avoided. As one reflexively removes the hand from the flame, for it is an act of self-injury or harm, similarly some persons, like Sri Ramakrishna, cannot have sexual thoughts in any form. Such thoughts are taken as harmful to the self and therefore, are reflexively suppressed in them. One can understand the purity of relationship in the lives of saints on this basis. This reflex is very highly evolved reflex on the evolutionary ladder, at which only very few have yet reached. But it is possible and desirable? That is what we should learn from these great souls.
Continued part 11... | Previous Part 9... | Index to all Parts...
c s shah
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