Man’s partial consciousness is a stage in the grand evolution of life. What could be the significance of his volitional efforts in its growth?
Please also explain the role that the buddhas, the enlightened ones, play in the expansion of human consciousness.
Evolution is unconscious. No volition is needed, no conscious effort. It is just natural. But once consciousness evolves, then it is a totally different matter. Once the consciousness is there, evolution stops. Evolution is only up to consciousness; the work of evolution is to create consciousness. Once consciousness is there, evolution stops. Then the whole responsibility falls upon consciousness itself. So this has to be understood in many ways.
Man is not evolving now. Since long, man has not been evolving. Evolution has stopped as far as man is concerned. The body has come to its peak; now the human body has not evolved since long. The most ancient bones and the most ancient human bodies that have been found are not basically different from our bodies; there is no basic difference. A human body which is one hundred thousand years old, if it can be revived and trained, it will be just like you. There will be no difference at all.
The human body has stopped evolving. When did it stop? When consciousness comes in, evolution’s work is over. Now it is up to you to evolve. So man is static, not evolving, unless man himself endeavors. Now, beyond man, everything will be conscious. Below man everything is unconscious. With man a new factor has entered – the factor of awareness, the factor of consciousness. With this factor, evolution’s work is over. Evolution is to create a situation in which consciousness evolves. Once consciousness enters in, now the whole responsibility is on consciousness. So man will not evolve now; naturally, there will be no evolution.
Consciousness is the peak of evolution, the last step, but it is not the last step of life. Consciousness is the last step of evolution, of all animal heritage. It is the last step, the climax, the peak. But for further growth, it is to be the first step. And when I say evolution has stopped, I mean that now an inner effort is needed: unless you do something, you will not evolve. Nature has brought you to a point which is the last for unconscious growth. Now you are aware, now you know. When you know, you are responsible.
A child is not responsible for his acts, but an adult is. A madman is not responsible for his acts, but a sane man is. If you are under an alcoholic intoxicant, if you are not behaving consciously, you are not responsible. With consciousness, with the faculty of knowing there, you become responsible for yourself.
Sartre has said somewhere that responsibility is the only human burden. No animal is responsible. Evolution is responsible for all that an animal is. The animal is not responsible for anything. Man is responsible. So whatsoever you do now will be your responsibility. If you create a hell and go down, it is up to you. If you evolve, grow and create a blissful state of being, it is up to you.